I’ve been struggling with writing lately. I’m trying to make progress on my third book. I keep saying “I will get started”. And I have gotten started! I’m just not consistently writing. I sometimes write, punctuated with long periods of… not writer’s block… not disinterest… maybe, foreboding?

This whole year has felt entirely overwhelming. My husband had a major stroke a year ago. He was in the hospital and rehab a long time. My son, Chance, graduated high school, with all that that entails. Other family members had illnesses. And in the middle of all of that was the publishing/PR machine that goes with putting a book out into the world. (Then having the book BE out in the world, which is super overwhelming!)

I thought that I had recovered from the vast majority of the stress, and things have returned to normal levels (my husband is doing great now, btw) so I should be getting on with life. Then something popped up that made me realize I wasn’t really taking care of myself emotionally. But I didn’t know I wasn’t taking care of myself, you know what I mean? I was taking care of my family, and health stuff, and day to day tasks. But I wasn’t writing much, or meditating, or paying attention to my deep down thoughts and feelings. I did keep talking about going on vacation (which never happened and probably won’t for a couple of months) but I think vacation was another way for me to avoid. Or maybe a cry from my unconscious for a break.

The truth was, even though all the stressful bits of the year were over, I was/am still feeling very overwhelmed. Overwhelm is one of those processes that can be sneaky and self-perpetuating. Like, you can be a little overwhelmed and not realize it, so it just keeps working in the background to keep you in that state. And, then of course, if there’s no stressful events happening, then you also feel kind of guilty and wrong about feeling stressed. Like you’re stressed out about being stressed out. So you just end up pushing it all down in a mantra of “I’m fine. Everything is fine,” until you cease to recognize that you’re in that overwhelmed state. The idea of  taking time to journal or be in my meditative practice (e.g. taking care of myself) felt like this huge amount of work in my head. Another overwhelming task to be completed. And to be honest, this year had already been so much work, I didn’t want more. Another book, of course, is also a huge amount of work, but I was prioritizing the next book as important, and prioritizing my inner self as… not so much. So of course, when I go to write, I’m not really at my best.

It’s funny how often when we “pick our battles”, we don’t choose to fight for ourselves.

I just didn’t realize how much the year’s stress had affected me. Sometimes you can’t let go of something until you recognize it, so finally seeing that I was on the edge of overwhelm most of the time, was actually a huge step. It’s amazing what acknowledgement of the feels can do; I already feel the overwhelm losing it’s grip.

This is my next step, doing those things I was avoiding… meditating, journaling, blogging, talking about it. I know I’m not the only person to feel overwhelmed. And I’m certain I’m not the only writer out there who gotten to this state, because the whole writing/publishing process is a stress monster unto itself.

So… if you’re feeling the same way, I hear you.